Greetings from the Great White North! I just taught my first day’s class of a week-long modular here at Toronto Baptist Seminary. So far, I have learned much more from my Canadian brothers and sisters than I have taught. Based on my limited exposure, here are some reasons I am coming to love these people.
Canadian Christians are Resilient
As I left the airport in the frigid night, I could not believe how these people thrive in such harsh conditions. This morning’s temperature hovered around zero. Of course, this doesn’t include the wind chill factor. As I moved from my residence to the seminary, I walked with some fellows who didn’t seem bothered at all. As I am walking, I think, “Did one of my lungs just freeze up?” And these guys are carrying on a conversation oblivious to my unstated cardiovascular concerns.
When I asked them how they survive up here, they say that it is not so bad. They claim you get used to it. Yeah, like vampires get used to sunlight. I mean, it is cold here. I know what you’re thinking, “Okay Todd, quit whining, they said it’s not that bad.” Perhaps you didn’t hear me. It is COLD here. It is a, we-need-to-pack-food-and-blankets-in-our-car-before-leaving-home-in-case-we-get-stranded-in-a-blizzard kind of cold. But as the temperatures plummet, these Christian Canadians seem to get tougher. I’m dreading the walk back to my room. They’re discussing a possible afternoon hockey game. Their resilience is remarkable. This is a great character trait that we Americans should imitate.
Canadian Christians are Good-humored
These Canadian Christians have unusual comedic sensibilities. I mean that in a good way. They are hilarious. There is an unassuming, “Yeah, we know we’re not Americans and we are quite happy about it” air about them. Words elude me in describing this sense of humor. Maybe wry would be the right one. They see things from a comfortable distance. This distance gives them a perspective that Americans don’t have. We think we can do anything. They know they can’t. Better yet, they know we can’t either. It is this awareness of limitations that fuels their humor. And for an American, it is funny. It is not funny because it’s referring to us. It is funny because it’s true! These Canadian Christians can find humor in the most challenging of situations. It is a blessing that we Americans should learn.
Canadian Christians are Thankful
As natives of the Bible Belt, we do not know what it is like to feel as though we are swimming in a sea of secularity. Our Canadian Christian brothers and sisters do. This brings them closer together. They understand fellowship. We don’t. Tonight, we met as a class in the cafeteria. One of the students led us in prayer. Then, we shared a meal prepared by two dedicated student workers. The meal was unadorned and satisfying. But, the communion was rich and edifying. The food wasn’t the important thing. The time spent together was. As Americans, we don’t often spend this kind of time together. When we do, we talk more about the food than to each other. Don’t get me wrong. My experience at dinner was not a re-creation of Bonhoeffer’s Life Together. But it did remind me of it. My Canadian Christian friends are thankful for what they have in common. As Americans, our affluenza prohibits such appreciation.
Canadian Christians are Engaged
I have taught at more than a few churchs, colleges, and seminaries over the past few years. There are always individuals who seem to hang on every word. That said, there are always a few who sit there and read or play on their phones instead of listening. These Canadian Christians all fit the description of the former. Not only were they listening, but they were engaging. Questions were specific and practical. Comments were polite and well thought out. The passion in their eyes warmed my heart. They appreciated any practical advice I provided that could help them minister to their people. They were not hungry. They were ravenous. I wish we Americans were this engaged.
Canadian Christians are Evangelistic
Why are they so ravenous? I suppose it is because they are aware of their harsh conditions. I am not talking about the meteorological climate. I am talking about the secularity of their culture. My Canadian Christian friends love Jesus. They know that He is the only One who can improve the condition of their land. This creates an evangelistic zeal unseen state-side. Am I saying that Canada is more pagan than the United States? No. But, Canadian Christians are aware of their country’s lostness. We are not.
What are my Canadian Christian friends teaching me? They are teaching me that the frigid environment must never cool my heart for Jesus. They are teaching me that there is joy in enduring hardship. They are teaching me that fellowship meals are about the fellowship not the meals. They are teaching me to hunger for ways to help my people. They are teaching me that evangelistic zeal comes from a genuine appreciation for God. My students are teaching me these valuable lessons. I am glad to be their professor.